Brazil’s Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, will hand over, tomorrow, the first rural loans to young farmers, 18-24 years old, under the aegis of the Our First Land program, which intends to combat rural exodus by encouraging young people to remain on the land.
Besides money to buy land, the program will also provide funds to invest in infrastructure. Eugênio Peixoto, Secretary of Agrarian Restructuring in the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), explained that the only loans that will have to be repaid are the ones to purchase rural property.
“What is significant is that the aim of the program is not just to ensure access to land and investment in infrastructure. It is also concerned with technical assistance and training,” he affirmed.
The Secretary said that the government established a partnership with the Brazilian National Union of Agricultural Family Schools (UNEFAB) for these young people to receive secondary-level technical instruction.
The loans made by the Our First Land program are to be repaid in 14 years, at a fixed annual interest rate of 4%. The main objective of the program, according to Peixoto, is to enable young people to stay in the countryside.
The program initially expects to assist from 3.5 to 5 thousand young people. 19 projects, involving 258 young people, have already been presented in the three weeks since the program got started. The total cost of these projects amounts to US$ 756 thousand (2.2 million reais).
Applications have to be submitted by legally constituted associations or cooperatives. To be eligible for a loan, candidates should have an annual family income of less than US$ 1.990 (5,800 reais) and a total family wealth of less than US$ 3.400 (10,000 reais).
Other requirements are that candidates have at least five years of farm experience and not be children of landowners whose holdings amount to more than three fiscal modules – the size of which is defined by each municipality to qualify the area as a family farming unit.
According to the Secretary, the program complements agrarian reform, since it permits the purchase of lands that don’t fit the criteria for expropriation or are productive and up for sale. The Incra estimates that 40 thousand hectares of land fall into this category.
Reporter: Cecília Jorge
Translator: David Silberstein